To The Worn Mom Nearing Mother's Day
I know you're worn out. You've washed so many dishes and folded so many clothes and yet you still look around your home and wonder why there's little to show for your efforts. You want to stay present with your children, yet this season leaves you drawing inward as you process internal thoughts so you don't spill your emotions onto the innocent bystanders - your own children.
Your emotions. Can you name them? Can you call them out? Is it okay to go there, to feel with such intensity? Maybe not while your kids need your attention, but maybe later when they are tucked in bed and instead of sitting mindlessly in your exhaustion, you choose to confront your emotions that you'd honestly rather not have, especially that one that hits you hour by hour.
Do you dare speak it into existence? I'm __________.
Do you dare write down all the reasons why? I'm __________ because ___________________.
Do you dare to pray over that one intense emotion? Pray because God already knows and it's not hidden from Him. And even though your mind and flesh war against you and you just want your soul to get its act together, even though you just want to stuff the emotions so you can claim victory, perhaps the victory only comes when you let God take over, when you hand your intense emotion over to Him.
Because, let's be real. Emotions aren't sin. It's not a sin to feel sad. It's not a sin to feel angry. It's not a sin to feel happy. You might tilt your head at that last one, but stay with me.
It's not a sin to feel happy.
Well of course it's not a sin. That's a good emotion, right? Well, it depends.
It depends because there was a time when happy could have been my middle name. My head was in a cloud if you will. Things were great and the future was bright and I mistook my happiness for joy. You see, happiness came at a time when there was only one person to think about - me. Sure, like a good Christian girl, I brought God into the equation, but very little in my life required dying to myself. It's not a sin to be happy, no, but my heart response was "well if I'm happy it's okay as long as it's not bad." My definition of bad was anything that looked bad on the surface, not once considering my selfish response. Happiness can lend it's hand to selfishness, because if we do what makes us feel happy and not what pleases God, then the end result is sin. It's a matter of heart.
Years later, I have discovered what joy looks like. It's not the same as happiness. No, joy is still around when my main emotion is sadness. It's still around when my main emotion is anger. It's still around.
For me, joy surfaces when my kids are playing happily and they show that they do indeed love one another amid the sibling rivalry. It surfaces when my not-so-baby baby tries to sing songs with me while I'm cradling her in my arms even though she no longer fits in my arms. It surfaces when I've cried in my husband's arms when the fruit basket of life has been turned upside down and I have no control over the fruit or the basket to pick up the pieces. It surfaces when my child hugs me and says "I forgive you" as I humbly ask for their forgiveness for yelling at them over something that wasn't worth yelling over, yelling as a result of the one emotion that refuses to leave me - anger.
I've named it to myself and to God and now to you as well. I'm saying it to you so you know you're not alone in your emotion struggles. You're not alone, okay? It's not just you. It's not just me. Nearly everyone is struggling with difficult emotions right now, and I want to remind you that feeling those difficult emotions is not sin. Feeling is not sin.
Jesus wept in sadness over the grief surrounding the death of Lazarus.
Jesus turned tables in anger over people buying and selling in a place meant for prayer.
To be honest, I grew up understanding that sadness was okay, but no one ever spoke of anger. And still to this day, I haven't heard anyone preach on the intense moment of Jesus throwing tables around other than mentioning it and moving on. We know about it, we say it aloud, and we move on.
Jesus didn't sin in that moment of anger. He didn't sin. If it were sin, that would clearly take away the whole point of the gospel.
Still, it's hard for me to wrap my mind around anger.
Responding to my sadness by crying doesn't feel like sin.
Responding to my anger by knocking over a table or a chair or a *insert object* feels a lot like sin.
I don't have the answers. All I know is that Jesus didn't sin in that moment. His anger was righteous, therefore His response pure, not selfish.
And while I know that my reasons for anger may sometimes be righteous, I also know that I'm prone to respond out of selfishness or redirect that anger in a way that is sinful instead.
My reason for throwing over a chair when I was pregnant with our first daughter was because of my own selfishness, because the reality of becoming a mother meant dying to a few of Shelby's plans in order to follow the call of God on her life. Yeah, to take up her cross and FOLLOW. That was the first time the anger emotion hit me full force, and it hasn't really let up since. Why? Because, though I've given my life to Jesus, I still sin. Dying to my own desires to be aligned with God's will for my life requires a daily response to say "yes, I'll follow you and won't turn back," and "I'll trust that the plans you have for me are far better than the ones I had for myself."
So what's a Mom to do, especially the worn out ones who are nearing Mother's day and just feel stuck -stuck in their homes due to a pandemic and stuck in their emotions due to circumstances? What's anyone to do with intense emotions?
Here's what seems to be working for me and maybe it can work for you:
Emotionally, confide in someone who loves and supports and will pray for you.
Mentally, take note of the emotion.
Physically, process that emotion in a healthy way. For me, that has been writing down all the reasons I'm angry in a journal.
Spiritually, pray. You counter that emotion with prayer. You tell God what you're feeling, because he says to cast your cares on Him. Your cares. All the things you feel and feel deeply. All of your emotions, even the ones that feel dark and that leave you feeling alone in the struggle. I've come to realize that there are emotional struggles all throughout the Bible by those who followed God, and like my pastor says "it's not about perfection, but intention."
And finally, you remind yourself you're not alone, not even if you feel stuck at home on Mother's Day or in your emotions or in whatever season you find yourself in.
You are not alone.